In 2019, until the end of October, Taiwan startups have raised a total of $65m, according to Business Next’s annual report on Taiwan’s startup ecosystem. It’s partly based on a survey of 231 startup founders, co-founders and senior managers, among whom 211 contribute valid responses.
By comparison, 2017 has seen an influx of funds valued at $426m in total, among which $295m goes to Gogoro and $71m goes to Appier and M17 together. Last year, Taiwan startups have raised $49m, a little less than this year.
KKday and iKala have raised approximately $10m — the largest sum of investment this year — in January and August, respectively. The latter is funded in Series A and a follow-on round.
Angel investors have been particularly active this year. For example, NCTU (National Chiao Tung University) Angel Club participates in MoBagel’s Series A round and Boncha Boncha’s pre-A round, and TMYTEK, iDrip and Citpo are invested by the National Development Fund (NDF) under its Business Angel Investment Program.
Overall, the survey reveals that Taiwan startups are mostly funded at the early stages this year, from seed, angel, to Series A round. Only 1.3% of them are funded in Series B round and after.
Series B round funding is all about expanding market reach to succeed on a larger scale, according to Investopedia. This finding seems to suggest that Taiwan startups need to further validate their business models to prove to VCs that they’re prepared to take their business to the next level.
Meanwhile, 48.8% of the surveyed startups have never approached any VCs (22.7% have reached out to 1-3 VCs) and 70.1% haven’t participated in any accelerator program — a sign that a huge proportion of startups have been standing on their own feet.
Y Combinator, AppWorks, Microsoft for startups, and AAMA Taipei Cradle Program, in order, are the accelerator programs the surveyed startups want to join the most.
The rise of corporate venture capital
According to Taiwania’s white paper, among 729 investments in Taiwan startups from 2015 to August this year, CVCs (corporate venture capitals) take the lead in 414 cases, around 52% of the total, higher than traditional VCs in 380 cases (48%).
The National Development Fund and foreign investors participate in 17% and 14% of the cases, respectively.
Examples include the $5m investment of Wistron’s VC arm in MoBagel and $8m investment of Shin Kong Security in Umbo CV.
In fact, a number of enterprises in Taiwan have had a clear enough plan on how to invest in startups: Wistron appropriates 10% of the annual R&D budget for startup investments, Advantech and Flytech start from running a corporate accelerator program with StarFab, and Chunghwa Telecom, the largest in Taiwan, works with e-commerce giant PChome to invest in early stage startups with their joint VC fund worth $13m (NT$400m).
The government has also funded multiple startups this year, primarily through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program (Ministry of Economics), Project of Subsidies & Incentives for Taipei Industry (Taipei city government), and Business Angel Investment Program (NDF).